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Elderly targeted with malware while young adults receive TikTok scams

Differences in preferred devices for internet access result in divergent threats among age groups.

Most people over 55 primarily use desktop computers and laptops to go online, recent research by Avast shows. The majority of those aged 55-64 (58%) and over 65 (69%) prefer desktops and laptops over mobile.

According to the research, a preferred device attracts a certain kind of cybercrime. Researchers at Avast claim that people over 55 are more susceptible to ransomware, tech support scams, spyware, and botnets.

Many threats require victims to either download malware or access email links to malicious websites.

Meanwhile, members of younger generations mainly use smartphones to access the internet. According to the survey, 78% of aged 18-24 use smartphones as a primary device.

80% of 25-34 and 76% of 35-44 age groups also claim to prefer mobile access to the internet.

Researchers claim that differences in preferred device results in dissimilar attack vectors compared to members of an older generation. For example, people aged 18-44 are more often targeted with mobile banking trojans, FluBot SMS scams, as well as Instagram and TikTok scams that promote adware.

Adware (59%) was the top threat, with banking trojans (10%) in a distant second.

Different age groups also exhibit distinct reasons for internet use. While the most important internet activity for 18-24-year-olds is using social media (37%), 25-34-year-olds use the internet to stay in contact with friends and family via messenger services and emails (37%).

For 35-44-year-olds, it’s banking and finance activities (43%).

Researchers claim that divergent usage of a preferred device attracts different threat actors. While younger generations are targeted with social media scams, their older counterparts receive banking trojans.

In contrast, the most important activities for the older generation are banking and finance activities (55-64: 56%, 65+: 61%), followed by staying in contact with friends and family via messenger services and email (55-64 - 40%, 65+ - 47%), and using a search engine (55-64 - 42%, 65+ - 44%).

“This helps to explain why they are more likely to be targeted for key threats on computers including ransomware, email phishing scams and spyware/Trojans targeting their finances, and tech support scams,” reads the report.

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